Writer: Chris Ryall
Art: Gabriel Rodriguez and Jay Fotos
Letters: Shawn Lee
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: September 28th, 2022
Onyx #1 is a 100-pager, a deluxe tale of an alien female named Onyx, decked out in powerful armor capable of interstellar travel, coming to Earth to fight an alien species called the Spoors, who destroyed her own world and are moving across the galaxy, taking root on each planet and taking it over in an insidious “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” type way. Will this mix of sci-fi and super-heroics create a winning book?
I really wanted to like Onyx #1. With a fierce female hero from an exotic alien world, hungry for revenge and the need to protect other worlds, and a David Cronenberg-style alien species that takes over humans like moss takes over trees, it seemed like a powerfully good concept for a book. But in almost every way, the book is disappointing.
My main problem with the book is the cliched characters. Once we get to Earth, we’re introduced to a military squad with members so flat and uninteresting, they make the squad in the first “Predator” film look original and fascinating by comparison.
One of the characters, a PSI operative named Loner, has the makings of being someone we can invest in, but as the book trudges on, she slips into being just another generic psychic we’ve seen in countless other books and films, occasionally staring off into the void and saying “I can’t read your thoughts” or “I’m having difficulty reading your thoughts”. The rest of the squad is the usual mix of the brainy guy, the tough-as-nails female (who threatens everyone for no reason), and the secretive commander who has a hidden agenda he’s keeping from the rest of his squad.
Onyx, the hero of the story, is more interesting, with a suit of armor that can create energy blades she uses to cut through rock and flesh. Visually, she looks awesome, all steel and pulsating energy blades with an Ultron-style mask, but there’s no passion in her quest to destroy the Spoors. Throughout the book, she’s so cold, humorless, and logical about taking the aliens down, she makes Spock look like Robin Williams. For someone whose planet was destroyed by the Spoors, the reason for her obsession with hunting them down is made clear, but there’s no emotion, no wrestling with the sense of loss.
If this book spins off into a series, I’d love to see more of Onyx when she’s “off the clock”. Here, we get 100 pages of her laser-focused on taking out the Spoors, but we learn little about the character herself. It becomes a chore to get through the book, even though the action amps up mercifully towards the end.
Gabriel Rodriguez brings some flair with his art in Onyx #1. His depiction of the Spoors is terrifying, as they worm their way into humans, animals, and the terrain alike, transforming them into twisted grotesque mutations.
Onyx’s armor and weapon designs are on point. There are enough differences between her and other armored characters such as Iron Man or X-O Manowar to make her visually interesting, especially in the way she wields her energy weapons. The jungle terrain that the bulk of the story takes place in looks lush and foreboding, and enhances the tension in the story.
Onyx #1 has some good visuals and combat scenes, but the characters all come off uninteresting. The Spoors are a great body-horror-style alien threat, but it’s hard to root for any of the “heroes” in this book because they all ring flat.